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Gov't Launches National Campaign to Curb Defilement, Child Marriages

The one-year campaign is aimed at mobilizing the country to address defilement, child marriages, and teenage pregnancies so that a structured social dialogue can take place to create awareness.

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The government has launched a nationwide campaign aimed at curbing teenage pregnancies, defilement, and child marriages.

The campaign under the theme' Protect the Girl, Save the Nation' was launched on Friday at the Kololo Independence Grounds.

The one-year campaign is aimed at mobilizing the country to address defilement, child marriages, and teenage pregnancies so that a structured social dialogue can take place to create awareness.

It will use a multi-sectoral approach involving key Ministries, Departments, and Agencies; and local governments to develop strategies and action plans. Some of the action plans will include sensitizing the public, mobilizing political leaders and Civil Society Organizations-CSOs on the situation, and scaling up peer education and outreach of adolescents.

The launch of the campaign comes at a time when the number of teenage pregnancies, defilement, and child marriages are on the rise due to the closure of schools following the outbreak of COVID-19.

While officiating at the launch of the campaign, the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja said that the one-year campaign will help correct the situation as parents and members of society will be sensitized about the lost opportunities the girl child faces due to teenage pregnancies, defilement, or child marriages.

//Cue in; "Its a painful...

Cue out...and families."// A 2020 study carried out by the Forum for Africa Women Educationalists in Uganda (FAWEU) on the situation and impact of  COVID-19 on adolescent girls child showed that between March and June 2020, the number of teenage girls seeking their first antenatal care appointment increased by 22.5 percent from 80,655 to 98,810.

Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, the Executive Director of the Population Council of  Uganda says the government needs to act now to address the problem of child marriages because they affect the country. According to Musinguzi, Uganda spends more than 246 billion shillings annually on handling teenage pregnancy. Due to current increases in teenage pregnancies, this amount is expected to increase.

//Cue in; "There's a cost...

Cue out...very seriously. The 2020 Uganda Police report shows an increase of 3.8 percent in the number of defilement cases. According to the report, the most affected age groups were adolescents aged 15-17 and young adolescents aged 9-14 years. Figures show 9,954 and 2,986 cases were reported including these age groups respectively.

Dr. Joseph Sserwadda, the Presiding Apostle of Born Again Faith in the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda says adolescents need to understand their sexuality. He says many young people do not understand what sexuality is and need guidance. He says religious faiths need to provide safe places where sexuality can be freely discussed and addressed.

//Cue in; "Today we know...

Cue Out ...sex education."//

As the government implements the campaign, Nabbanja tasked parents to also play their roles. She urged parents to look after their children by providing them with essential requirements such as sanitary towels, body lotions, and school meals.

The campaign will be championed by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni, and will be co-championed by the Vice-President, Maj. Jessica Alupo.

The campaign will be funded by the United Nations Children Emergency Fund and the United Nations Population Fund.